Like most people with full-time jobs, we spend much of our year squeezing our travels around Scotland into annual leave and weekends. With so little time to play with we often don’t want to spend hours driving up to the Highlands – spending four hours in the car on a Friday night is not the most relaxing way to start a weekend away! Thankfully, there are lots of places to explore which are less than 2 hours drive from Edinburgh or Glasgow. Here are five ideas for weekend breaks in Scotland.
weekend breaks in Scotland
1. Explore Angus for dramatic castles & glens
With beautiful beaches, Dunnottar Castle and as much fresh fish as you can eat, not to mention the most sunshine in Scotland, the Angus coast is a hidden gem for weekend breaks in Scotland. For city trippers, Dundee has undergone something of a renaissance to become ‘Scotland’s coolest design city’ including the rather spectacular V&A in Scotland. If you fancy getting outside climb up to the Cairngorm plateau, the UK’s largest area of high mountains and the views stretch for miles across Glen Clova and the dramatic Corrie Fee.
Looking for fish & chips? The Bay in Stonehaven was voted the UK’s best food experience. Over in Arbroath, ‘smokies’ are a delicacy – haddock is dried in salt and then smoked over oak and beech chips for about an hour, often over whisky barrels.
Read more: things to do on the Angus Coast
Check-in: Greenhillock has glamping tents and a huge field for campers as well as pizza ovens and plenty of space for kids to play. If you are looking for luxury, the Hideaway Experience has secluded lodges with hot tubs and views for miles.
2. Get outside in Highland Perthshire
Highland Perthshire is one of my favourite places for weekend breaks in Scotland, with wooded glens to explore, huge lochs and lots of Munros to climb. Whilst you could rent a lodge with a hot tub and settle in for the weekend, why not horse ride along the River Tay at Kenmore, ride a RIB out onto the Loch with Loch Tay Safaris, go paddle boarding on Loch Earn, drive a 4×4 up a mountain, go mountain biking at Comrie Croft – or climb Scotland’s 10th highest mountain Ben Lawers? With so much to do in Highland Perthshire, you might just need a holiday when you get back!
Check-in: The Mains of Taymouth Estate has a range of holiday cottages just metres from Loch Tay, whilst the Four Seasons Hotel has a view to die for out over Loch Earn. If you are looking for luxury check into a Loch Tay boathouse or if you prefer to camp, then Comrie Croft offers up woodland and grass pitches as well as Swedish Katas. Highland Safaris cafe serves up locally procured lunches, go for a cookery class (and eat your own handiwork) at Ballintaggart Farm.
3. Turn off the A9
The A9 road takes travellers from the Central Belt right to the north coast of Scotland and is one of the countries’ busiest roads – but it is well worth spending a weekend exploring the towns along the route. Visit the pretty Perthshire villages of Dunkeld and Pitlochry, Blair Atholl and its castle, stop for photos at the gorgeous Queen’s View over Loch Tummel and explore the Victorian Hermitage garden. Further north is Dalwhinnie, Scotland’s highest whisky distillery, Wildcats at the Highland Wildlife Park at Kingussie and all the attractions of the Cairngorms National Park. Foodies will love the Mountain Cafe in Aviemore which serves up incredible brunches – be prepared to queue!
Check-in: Love eco-camping? Check into one of the handmade lodges at Gimme Shelter near North Queensferry, travelling north, Balsporran B&B is right on the A9 and offers beautiful double rooms and excellent breakfasts perfect for weekend breaks in Scotland. If you like things off-grid and rustic the Lazy Duck near Nethy Bridge has a small campsite, a hostel and three lodges perfect to hide away in.
4. Munro bag in the Loch Lomond & the Trossachs
With 41 mountains over 2000 ft to climb, the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park is a hill walkers paradise. Start slowly by climbing Conic Hill and Ben A’an for incredible views without much effort, then Ben Ledi for views over the whole National Park. Munro baggers will love Ben Lomond and Ben Vorlich and If you really want a challenge, Ben More (‘Big Hill’) is the highest mountain in the park. From the top there is an incredible view – but Ben More comes with a health warning – the path up the front is relentlessly steep.
Check-in: You can’t get any closer to Loch Lomond than then Lodge on the Loch. This lodge style hotel offers stylish rooms with balconies with the best view. Over in the Trossachs, the refurbished roadside inn style of Mhor 84 is a popular choice for foodies, but the rooms upstairs are good value too. For foodies, more Mhor can be found in Callendar, with fish suppers at Mhor Fish and pies at Mhor Bread.
5. Walk (and eat) through the East Neuk of Fife
The Fife Coastal Path is a 117-mile walking route on the east coast of Scotland from North Queensferry to St Andrews and beyond to Newport on the River Tay. Spend a weekend break in the East Neuk (‘east corner’) of Fife and walk the path from Elie to Crail via some of Scotland’s prettiest villages, St Monans, Pittenweem and Anstruther. Bringing the kids? The Fife Coastal Path is suitable for all ages and they will love discovering the East Neuk’s tiny harbours, playing cricket on the beautiful stretches of sandy beaches and strolling around the lovely Cambo Estate.
For foodies, Fife is heaven – try freshly cooked seafood from the Lobster Hut in Crail, head to Anstruther for traditional harbourside fish & chips, or a Michelin starred lunch at The Peat Inn. Fancy a BBQ? Pick up your own dinner at Bowhouse Market or Ardross Farm Shop.
Read more how to have a feast in Fife.
Check-in: Glampers will love Catchpenny Safari Lodges which are located right on the coastal path. Or stay in a traditional inn at the Ship Inn in Elie or pretend you are a local and rent a seaside cottage – try Harbour House or Sandcastle Cottage in Crail and the Admiralty House in Pittenweem.
Is it Friday yet?